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Advance Directives

  1. Who makes decisions regarding my health care?

    You do.

  2. Is there anything I can do to plan ahead for my health care?

    Yes, you may plan ahead by making Advance Directives and discussing your wishes with your family and your doctor.

  3. What are the three types of Advance Directives in the state of Arizona?

    • Health Care Power of Attorney: Names a person to make decisions for you only in health matters when you are unable to do so for yourself. This document does not apply to financial or other decisions.
    • Living Will: Instructs health care providers about your wishes for treatment in certain circumstances if you cannot communicate your wishes. It often describes patient's wishes in the event of terminal illness or irreversible coma. Health care providers must be sure that those circumstances are present before implementing the instructions in the Living Will.
    • Pre-hospital Medical Care Directive: Informs emergency medical personnel that you do not wish to be resuscitated for any reason. This directive is only applicable outside the hospital. Pre-hospital medical directives are usually created in cases of known terminal or incurable diseases.

  4. What happens if I become unable to make or communicate my health care decisions?

    Your Advance Directives will be followed unless they are contrary to the hospital's policies. In the absence of Advance Directives, every effort will be made to determine your wishes regarding health care treatment. Arizona law helps the hospital to identify the appropriate person to speak in your best interests

  5. Who may create an Advance Directive?

    • A competent adult (18 years of age or older).
    • A competent emancipated minor (a person under 18 years of age and living independently of parental support).

  6. Who should have copies of my Advance Directives?

    You should discuss your wishes with the following persons and give them copies of your Advance Directives:
    • Your doctor
    • Anyone you have named to make health care decisions for you
    • Close family members
    • Your clergy person
    • Any health care facility upon admission
    • Keep extra copies for yourself

  7. Can I be required to make an Advance Directive?

    No, but you will be asked if you have one or would like to complete one, when you go through the Admission process. All healthcare organizations are required by law to ask this question at the time of admission. If you do not have an Advance Directive but would like to complete one, hospital personnel are available to assist you. If you have completed one but do not have it with you, you will be offered the option of completing an Interim Care Directive. This document indicates your wishes but is valid only through the time of this admission to the hospital. It becomes invalid when a previously completed Advance Directive is produced, at the time of discharge or both.

  8. Can I change or revoke my Advance Directives?

    Yes, at any time, either in writing or verbally.

  9. What if I have an Advance Directive from another state?

    A valid Advance Directive made anywhere in the United States is valid under Arizona law. The exception might be an Advance Directive completed in the state of Oregon, where doctor-assisted suicide is legal. An Advance Directive that indicates a desire for doctor-assisted suicide would not be honored in the state of Arizona.

  10. Do I need a lawyer to make an Advance Directive?


  11. What does the law require for Health Care Power of Attorney?

    • The name of an adult authorized to make health care decisions for you, only when you become unable to communicate them yourself.
    • Your signature or mark and the date.
    • Signature of a notary or a witness. Your health care provider or a person who is a beneficiary under your will cannot be a witness for a Living Will. Contact the hospital operator for a list of notaries in the hospital.

  12. What does the law require for a Living Will?

    • Clearly stated instructions regarding treatment you want or do not want in certain circumstances. (See #3 above.)
    • Your signature or mark and the date.
    • Signature of a witness and the date. Your health care provider or a person who is a beneficiary under your will cannot be a witness for a Living Will.

  13. What does the law require of witnesses for Health Care Power of Attorney?

    • Witnesses must be 18 years of age or older. If you have only one witness, that person cannot be related to you or be someone who will inherit any part of your estate.
    • Health care providers involved in your care cannot serve as witnesses.

  14. What does the law require for a prehospital medical care directive?

    • Printed on orange background paper.
    • Your signature or mark and the date.
    • Signature of a licensed health care provider and a witness.
    • If you have signed an orange prehospital medical care directive, you also may wear a special orange bracelet. It must state your name, your doctor's name, and the words, "Do not resuscitate."

  15. What is the difference between a Living Will and a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?

    • Living Will states circumstances and details of health care you wish or do not wish to have.
    • DNR order is an order written by the doctor stating that certain medical interventions will not be done in the event of serious and irreversible deterioration, cardiac arrest, or respiratory arrest. The order is written by the doctor only after consultation with the patient (or the family if the patient is unable to participate in the discussion).
    • Medical Power of Attorney | Poder Legal (Medico) Para El Cuidado La Salud
    • Medical Living Will  | Testamento Medico En Vida

  16. What resources does the hospital provide in helping to prepare an Advance Directive?

    Forms, information booklets, and assistance with addressing questions and concerns are available through our chaplains and Admitting personnel. If you change or revoke your Advance Directives, be sure to give revised copies to each person to whom you have previously given copies and tell them to destroy the old ones.

This information is not meant to be legal advice. If you have legal concerns, you should contact a lawyer.

Additional information is available on the State of Arizona's Advance Directive Registry web site.